I can't find my website in a Google search. What's the problem?
I can't find my website in a Google search! What's the problem?
This is by far the most common question and/or statement we get from both current and potential customers.
It's been our experience at 3plains that people have the wrong idea about how Google ranking works. Ranking high in Google isn't a one day process; it takes months, if not years, to acheive. Being at the top of Google is actually a lot like farming. You can't just plant new seeds (Launch a new website) on a Monday and then on Tuesday harvest your crop (be on the first page of Google). You have to fertilize, irrigate, and tend to your crop (update your website) before anything will start to grow (be on the first page of Google). And that's just the first year of farming (ranking). If you want to grow corn again (be on the first page of Google) you have to continue the process.
Coming into year two, you would probably plant the seeds again and fertilize and irrigate them so they grow, right? You wouldn't just think "Well I worked really hard on the crops last year, so this year they should be fine if I do nothing or put in minimal effort". Sounds a little foolish, doesn't it? But that's what a lot of people do.
You need to treat Google Rankings like a living thing that needs to be tended to and nurtured and changed. Now that you have a little better understanding of the why, let's hop right in and talk about the how.
1. I Usually Need To Ask Few Questions
The first thing we do when we talk to a new client is ask a series of questions to learn about their website and business. This is no different than sitting in your doctors office while they ask you a series of questions to diagnose a problem so they can recommend a solution.
- The first question I typically ask is "what Google terms are you trying to rank with"? The response I get back is typically 1 or 2 phrases, like "deer hunting" or "Colorado deer hunting". I'd typically follow up with another question like, "Would a customer be more apt to book a hunt using the phrase "deer hunting", "Colorado deer hunting", "Colorado mule deer hunting" or "Colorado mule deer hunting outfitter"?"
Other questions I may ask include:
- How long have you had your website online?
- When was the last time you updated your website?
- How often are you updating your website?
- What efforts are you currently undertaking to stay up on your search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing efforts to stay ahead of your competition?
- Did you know your organic search engine optimization (or Organic SEO) is a separate service?
- Have you put any effort into link building?
- Have you done any Local SEO or Local Marketing?
- Do you have Social Media (ie Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc) and are you updating it? If so, how often?
- Have you claimed any of your profiles online?
We encourge you to answer these questions and get back to us with more information.
2. Google Is A Business
Google & Social Media - From all the answers I get back to the questions above, the most common theme is most businesses are spending their time updating Social Media. So why would Google want to rank your website well if all you do is spend your time updating Social Media rather than your website? Google is ranking your website and that is what you want to rank for, so updating your Social Media instead of your website is not time well spent.
Google Wants You To Pay For Placement - Google still does not put a high importance on Social Media. Sorry, they just don't. Why? They don't make any money if you update Facebook; Facebook does. Google wants you to be out there competing and failing so that you eventually buy AdWords from them. This is not a conspiracy, it's just fact, and where a lot of Google's revenue comes from.
Google Does Not Care About Your Business - Money is the bottom line for Google. They are a publicly traded company and they have an obligation to their shareholders, not you. You can see this by their financials: https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/GOOG?ltr=1. If someone is willing to pay more, Google will take their money. It is up to you, as the Google customer, to either pay Google to rank you (through AdWords or pay per click) or do it organically through SEO services.
3. There is Competition
When you first launched your website (maybe even before you were with 3plains) there was less competition, hence it was easier to rank well with less compeition. Now the competition is fierce, changing and growing everyday. So you must compete with your competitors or they will pass you in the Google search results. It's just that simple.
Look at your competition. Who is above you in the results and what are they doing?
4. No SEO Professional has the definitive answer
While we are on the topic of competition, the other question I get quite often in relation to competition is: "My website has been online longer than my competitor's website, why is he above me? What are they doing?". It's quite a loaded question and if you asked 10 marketing firms, you would get 10 different answers. Unfortunately, Google does not share their algorithm, so no one has the answer- all the answers are matter of opinion instead of fact.
However, 3plains and other companies all have their own unique strategies they employ that they feel will help pull your website up in the ranks.
5. The Times have changed
I have customers that have website domains that were registered as early as 1998. It was pretty easy to rank back then using a variety of SEO techniques; keyword stuffing, cloaking techniques, article spinning, guest blogging, excessive linking and a vareity of other black hat techniques. That has all changed and will keep changing.
It's 2017, every business now knows they need a website and need to compete. Back in 1998 and in the early 2000's, there were only websites and no one used social media. The online space has changed and you need to keep up or you fall behind.
6. You Hardly Touch Your Website
When was the last time you updated your website? I'm not talking about a few price updates or date updates. I'm talking about updating it on a constant basis with relevant content to what you want to rank your website for.
7. SEO is Labor Intensive
SEO is hard work and manual labor. There is no such thing as SEO magic or an SEO wand in order for your website to show up. Someone has to put the effort in.
A lot of our clients are in the hunting, ranching, and farm industries. So this is the best analogy that I can think of: "Not showing up on the first page in Google is essentially the exact same thing as having farm land, not planting and expecting a crop to harvest. If you don't buy the seeds, plant the seeds, fertilize, irrigate and tend to your crop you won't have anything to harvest. You will simply have a field filled with weeds."
If it was that easy, wouldn't everyone be #1 in Google? Wouldn't I be retired by now and maybe sitting on the beach somewhere?
8. SEO is Typically Misunderstood
I asked my girlfriend if she understood how the SEO pricing worked to get her opinion. Here’s how she responded:
"Before I met you, I never really thought much about how companies showed up in Google. I figured it was just a payment thing where a company would pay Google a standard $100ish a month and they would show up on the first page. Then after that it was who had been around the longest. So my opinion on Google rankings had to do with: 1. Payment to Google and 2. Seniority. With a company like Target, I thought they paid their "Google money" and because they have been around since 1902 they show up first. Some results say "ad" next to them, and I never clicked them because I didn't think they were real results. Ads are things I usually avoid on the web, so I ignore them in search and typically click on the real results."
Note: When she says "real results", she's referring to the organic or natural listings in Google below Google AdWords.
Nothing Happens Overnight - SEO does not happen overnight. It often takes months and years depending on your strategy. You can have some hefty short term gains if you want to push the needle in Google, but down the road, you may fall again. It all depends on your strategy.
"Google Professionals" - This is one of my favorites and I hear it all the time. Our customers getting 3 to 5 phone calls a week from "someone who works for Google" and they are going to put my website on the top. First, this so called individual or company does not work for Google and Google is not calling you. Google doesn't need to call you, they own the marketshare. This is misdirection and the individual will typically throw some statistics around that you may not understand, tell you the importance of it and then get you suckered into a small payment first. Then they will get you on a plan and ultimately get you paying for a Marketing plan of some kind with a very high profit margin. If they are out there selling that hard, they probably are not that great of company and really won't put the care into your business that you deserve.
9. What SEO Costs & What's Involved
Cheap SEO, Software and DIY SEO - $99/month is not SEO nor is that a service. Typically if you see SEO for $99/month that price you see is a "monitoring service" or DIY software with nothing more than a checklist they resell and profit around $1200 a year.
What Is a Good SEO Budget - A good SEO service is labor intensive and it includes a lot of moving parts: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, local SEO, link building, and several other components. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 - $150/hour if you want your SEO strategy to work. A marketing budget can range from 2.5% to 10% of your annual sales. This budget should include a variety of marketing strategies, including SEO.
10. Get a plan together
It's recommended to designate a piece of your annual marketing budget for SEO or digital marketing. A marketing budget can range from 2.5% to 10% of your annual sales. However, even if you are not able to spend that much on marketing and SEO, every little bit helps. A smaller budget may mean slower growth, but it is growth nonetheless.
SEO is a very important piece to your business, will always be relevant, and you must be budgeting a certain amount of your annual revenue towards SEO. We recommend using a trusted professional like 3plains to help you build your SEO strategy.
Please give us a call at 612.716.2060 and we will give you our no bull opinion on what may be going on with your website.